lying is the most fun a girl can have without taking her clothes off (but it's better if you do)
by Sandrine Shaw
Klaus finds her in Paris. The year is 2078, and the city is buzzing around them as he slides into the seat opposite hers in the little street café in Montmartre where she's having her breakfast.
"Fancy meeting you here," he says, and his smile is sharp and wolfish in the most literal way, showing off fangs that gleam white, deadly.
For all of a moment, Katherine panics, thinks about running (as if he wasn't faster than her), thinks about fighting (as if he wasn't stronger), realizes the only way out of this situation is to play him.
She dons the Elena Gilbert personality like an old dress she hasn't worn for a while but that still fits as well as it ever did. It feels almost comfortable now, after all this time. Where Katherine's self-preservation instincts would make her run, Elena stubbornly holds her ground, and her brow furrows into a disapproving frown that would make her wrinkle prematurely if she wasn't a vampire.
"Klaus." She breathes his name with judgment in her voice because that's what Elena would do, and she makes herself look at him not as a dangerous predator but like a bad-mannered sociopath who's somehow beneath her because she has the moral high ground. Being Elena Gilbert means trading her survival instincts for morals. It goes against everything Katherine has taught herself over the centuries; that's what makes it so hard.
The corners of Klaus's mouth twitch in delight, making her instantly wary. "Well, well, well, what's the lovely Ms Gilbert doing so far from home, without her two knights in not-so-shining armor?"
"It's none of your business," Katherine tells him primly, pursing her lips as if the way he talks about the Salvatore brothers annoys her. She's seen Stefan a decade or so ago, in St Petersburg with Caroline. They didn't notice her, and she didn't care to make herself know. They were a long way from Mystic Falls, and the Stefan she once loved had been gone for a long time.
"Ah, but what if I'd make it my business?" Klaus asks, taking her hand in his.
When Katherine pulls away and tells him, "Go to hell," there's not much of a difference between channeling Elena Gilbert and being Katherine Pierce.
It's not that easy, of course. She didn't expect it to be. Klaus might not have the same kind of destructive interest in Elena than he has in her, but the girl's a challenge to him, and Klaus revels in those, playing like a cat with a mouse until he gets tired and kills it.
She has to be careful, toeing the line between pushing him away and keeping his interest. It's a game she knows how to play, and when he follows her home to the sunny backyard apartment she owns, she leaves the door open so he can slip in behind her but doesn't acknowledge his presence until he reaches for her. When he pushes her against the wall and kisses her, she slaps him but forces herself not to push him off. When his mouth comes down on hers again, hard and insistent, she allows him to pry her lips open but doesn't kiss back.
"This doesn't mean that I forgive you," she tells him when he breaks away. It's the silly kind of point she imagines Elena would insist on making. She's not sure what it is Elena wouldn't be forgiving him for, but she's sure there must be something.
The grin on Klaus's face is triumphant, like he knows that he's already won. "Don't worry, love. It's not your forgiveness I'm interested in."
Klaus is not a gentle lover, which suits Katherine just fine. She's not sure if Elena would like the way he covers her body with his and wraps her legs around his waist, driving into her again and again with a punishing force that would take her breath away if she had to breathe. If Elena would protest when he leaves bite marks that sting and burn in a pleasantly painful way until he feeds her his sweet, rich blood. If she'd let him take her to the edge and cruelly pull her back time and time again until she was so exhausted that her whole world narrowed down to just him.
For once, Katherine allows herself not to care. Klaus clearly never had Elena in his bed before, so how would he be able to tell that he doesn't have her now, and Katherine can be herself here, in between the sheets (against the wall, on the rough carpet in the living room, on the counter of the small unused kitchen) without him knowing the difference.
Perhaps Elena would merely endure Klaus's attentions, but Katherine revels in them, just as she did in 1492 before she found out what it was he really wanted from her. Whatever else she feels about Klaus, she enjoys his intensity, his passion, the way his narcissism makes him treat sex like a game that's only won if he takes his partner apart thoroughly and completely.
She's careful not to lose herself in it, not to forget who he is and what he's capable of, what he'd do to her if he found out that she's not the doppelganger he thinks she is. But for now, she has to play along, and she wouldn't be Katherine Pierce if she didn't let herself make the best of the situation and take some enjoyment from it.
She tries to make a run for it after a couple of days, because she knows if she gets too comfortable, she will slip up – and with Klaus, the smallest error may cost her her life.
Klaus finds her with a packed suitcase, ready to split town and move on.
"Going somewhere?" he asks, raising a quizzical eyebrow. His smile is perfectly pleasant, the kind of smile she's seen him wear before tearing out hearts and ripping heads off, and it makes the borrowed blood in Katherine's veins freeze.
It takes her a moment to remember that Elena wouldn't be thinking of this as running, that Elena would insist on being perfectly within her rights when she's leaving. Stupid, naïve Elena, who's never been chased all over the globe for half a millennium.
Katherine puts on a smile and shrugs. "Paris isn't really my kind of city. I thought maybe I'll catch up with Damon back in New York." She has no clue where the hell Damon is nowadays. The last time she'd seen him was in Mystic Falls, but she's heard his name being uttered around the vampire community of Brooklyn a year or ten ago, and it's not like Klaus can prove that she's lying. "So, I guess this is goodbye."
Klaus's fingers close around her wrist when she makes a move to push past him, his grip so tight that she feels the bones crunch.
"Why don't you stay a little while longer?" he asks, except it's not a question at all.
Elena would argue. She'd recognize the threat for what it is and ignore it, she'd push and push until something has to give. But Katherine has known Klaus for long enough to know that he's never going to be that something, so she sets her suitcase down and nods. "Why not? I'm sure Damon won't mind waiting."
"That's a good girl."
There's satisfaction in his tone and his touch loses its punishing force, his fingers on her arm deceptively gentle, rubbing small circles against the abused skin.
That night, she makes her displeasure known to him by leaving bloody scratch marks on his skin, rolling on top of him and pushing his hands down and riding him slowly and unhurriedly in a way that she's sure is driving him crazy.
Klaus lets her, allowing her the tiny spark of rebellion. It's curious; he used to shoot Katherine down instantly when she was acting out, but with Elena, he almost seems to enjoy her defiance.
It's hard not to hate Elena for it. Everyone is always falling over themselves for her, making concessions and allowances they would never grant Katherine. Even Klaus seems to have a soft spot for the girl. Katherine doesn't understand why, when she caused him every bit as much trouble as Katherine did and had a hand in killing his brother.
Katherine isn't jealous. Not of Elena, and certainly not over Klaus. She just doesn't get it.
Days turn into weeks turn into months.
Klaus sometimes comes home stained in red all over and Elena pouts disapprovingly when Katherine wants nothing more than to lick the blood off him.
She doesn't understand what he wants with Elena, why he's so insistent on possessing her and keeping her at his side, if it's some twisted version of punishment. Perhaps Elena would see it that way; but for Katherine, the only punishment is having to pretend to be her dull, aggravating doppelganger twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
She'd like to be herself again, tear out someone's throat and have her fill, dance and drink all night and fuck until she can't remember her own name. Instead she's Elena, who doesn't like excess and clings to morals she should have outgrown the day she woke up with a set of fangs. Katherine is bored, spectacularly so, and the only distraction she has is Klaus, so she makes the most of it.
When Klaus gets the call about Elijah's death, Katherine is with him. She can hear Rebekah sobbing on the other end of the line, and Klaus's expression turns to stone before contorting into an inhuman grimace. He trashes the room in a matter of seconds, his grief leaving broken furniture and smashed glass in its wake.
Katherine silently watches, frozen to the spot, unable to feel any fear in the face of Klaus's rage because the shock drowns it all out. It's like someone had a fist around her heart and started squeezing.
She loved Elijah once. Twice, actually, and it doesn't matter that there's a span of five hundred years in between when she hated him. It was the kind of love that buries itself deep in whatever's left of your soul and leaves something that remains. Elijah was a good man, perhaps the only good man she's ever known, and his only flaw was how much he loved his brother.
Klaus stops amidst the carnage and fixes her with a wild, desperate stare that makes her want to run both towards and away from him. Tears are streaking his face. She's never seen him cry before. She can't remember the last time she cried herself, but when she blinks, her vision blurs.
"Elijah was the only one who never gave up on me." Klaus doesn't look at her when he speaks. He lies next to her on a bed that's in tatters, ripped pillows and sheets crimson with both their blood. Klaus seems calm and collected now, but Katherine knows it doesn't mean that the need for violence and destruction isn't still pumping through his veins like vervain in his blood. "He was always trying to make me be a better man, yapping away about how I would be happier if I let people in. Quite annoying, really."
The approximation of a smile that stretches his mouth is bitter.
"What's the point in trying, now? Why would I want to be a better man when there's no one left who thinks that I can be, or who even cares?"
The sentiment is so familiar that it aches. She remembers half a century ago, Jeremy Gilbert telling her that her unashamed selfishness was what made people treat her like an object rather than a person, but he had cause and effect all mixed up. Then again, chances are that Jeremy has been dead and buried for decades, so who gives a fuck what he thought of her.
"Maybe if you were a better man, people would start caring," Katherine echoes, play-acting Elena.
"You don't really believe that," Klaus tells her, and since he's right, she doesn't bother objecting. She's too tired to be Elena tonight.
Klaus sits up and reaches for his clothes, his back turned to her, stained in red even though the wounds she left have already healed. "You should go."
He throws her a look across his shoulder, and there's something mocking about it, something cold and calculated. "Come on now, Katerina. Don't act like you haven't been wanting to leave for months. I was going to keep playing this game for a while longer, but as things are, I'm afraid I lost the taste for it. So I suggest you be on your way before I remember that I wanted you dead."
Katherine swallows the terror that's latched itself into her throat. She contemplates the possible merits of denying it, but it will only test his patience and there's evidently not much left of that as it is.
"What gave me away?" It was probably the way she reacted when she heard about Elijah, she thinks, or perhaps her earlier comment about being a better man was unconvincing.
Klaus stands, buckling up his pants while he surveys the mess they've made of the bedroom. His tone, when he speaks, is conversational; he might as well be talking about the weather. "Elena died a couple of years ago. I think it was '75? Or perhaps '74. Some witchy ritual gone wrong. Elijah tried to save her, actually, and he dragged me along on his little rescue mission, but when we got there it was already too late. So unless someone resurrected her, you couldn't possibly have been Elena, even though I have to admit that you did quite a good job passing for her."
"You've known all along?" She isn't usually the kind of person who states the obvious, but the idea that she's been pretending to be Elena fucking Gilbert for months now, being a nauseatingly good little girl, and Klaus just let her get away with faking it is so outrageous that it makes her splutter.
The grin on Klaus' face is a bare shadow of its usual self, the news of Elijah's death turning the triumph of playing her into a hollow victory. "It was quite the show, love. But alas, I don't have time to draw it out. People to kill, vengeance to enact, you know how it goes. And we both know that you would like to be anywhere but here."
Does she, though?
If she really were Elena, she'd insist on staying with him, suggesting they'd find comfort in each other over the loss. If she were Elena, she'd help him get his revenge on the people responsible for Elijah's death and she'd try to make sure that he didn't go too far. Elena wouldn't care that, if she stays, she might well wind up dead – at Klaus's hand or caught up in whatever war he's going off to wage.
But no matter how good she is at pretending, she's not Elena, and she has no interest in being like her. For six centuries, survival has been her top priority, and she isn't about to change that because Klaus is experiencing a moment of vulnerability and uncharacteristic leniency.
She dresses quickly, combing her fingers through the messy waves of her hair. If she hurries, she can be out of Paris and somewhere above the Atlantic by midnight.
"Good luck with that vengeance," she tells him. "I trust you'll be delivering a painful death to everyone who had a hand in Elijah's fate."
"Oh, you can count on that, love."
Klaus steps towards her. She instinctively backs away when he reaches for her, and he raises a taunting eyebrow. It goes against every instinct she has, but she stills, waiting for a violent touch that never comes. Klaus's hand is devastatingly tender against her cheek. "Maybe I'll come find you when I'm done."
It could be a threat or a promise, and there's no point of asking him what he means it to be because what matters will be the mood he's in when– if he finds her.
"Are you asking me to stop running?" It's a coy question, the flirty tone more important than the words. Katherine has no intention to stop running, no matter his response.
He leans forward and kisses her briefly, playfully nipping at her lower lip, and she enjoys returning the kiss as Katherine, with all the anger and resentment of six hundred years on the run.
"Not at all, sweetheart. I quite enjoy the chase."
She doesn't take anything with her other than the clothes she's wearing and a bottle of bourbon for the road. His eyes follow her as she leaves, but she knows his mind is already elsewhere, scheming bloody revenge, plotting how to make others pay for his pain while Katherine is thinking about where to go and how to reinvent herself along the way.
She knows better than to look back.